Homeless & Street Paper Vendors protest Toronto police harassment

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Fri, 23 Jul 1999 22:27:30 -0700 (PDT)

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FWD  Toronto Star - July 22, 1999


     By Catherine Dunphy
     Toronto Star Feature Writer

 Pregnant and homeless, Julie Hanna paid $2 for five copies of Outreach,
the newspaper sold by homeless people throughout the city.

 She wanted to sell them to make some money for food and cigarettes.

 But on Tuesday morning a pair of police officers ordered her to stop
selling the paper or she would be thrown in jail, she said.

 ``They told me that there was no more selling papers, no more panhandling,
no more squeegeeing, no more sleeping in the park,'' she said.

 Then, she said, they rousted her from her place at the northeast corner of
Yonge and Wellesley Sts.

 ``This is just because I'm homeless. The police threaten to arrest me just
for trying to make money to feed me and my unborn child,'' said Hanna, 30,
who is seven months pregnant. ``I've had it.''

 Police Chief David Boothby said he couldn't comment on the incident
without knowing the specific circumstances.

 ``The fact is, some people are getting fed up with aggressive
panhandling,'' he said.

 Hanna says target policing is giving police permission to harass homeless
people who are doing nothing illegal. Many activists agree.

 Ontario Coalition Against Poverty member Gaetan Heroux said about 20
police swept Allan Gardens last week.

 ``It was clear they were targeting the poor, the blacks, the homeless,''
he said.

 Other outreach workers report police handed out tickets last week to
squeegee kids working near Bathurst St. and Lake Shore Blvd. W.

 ``It is one of the most intimidating situations to observe,'' said Heroux.
``To watch the cops approach people for no reason.''

 Community groups opposed to target policing are to meet next week to
hammer out a plan to help homeless people avoid the crackdown.

 OCAP organizer John Clarke wants the group to organize squads that would
patrol and monitor - and possibly videotape - police encounters with the
homeless in parks and on the street.


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